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I'm planning a rationalist technique-demonstrating sequel to HPMOR. I know about the Virtue of Silence. Are there any skills I should leave out? 2016-03-01T04:13:35.107Z · score: 0 (11 votes)
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 111 2015-02-25T18:52:01.381Z · score: 3 (4 votes)
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 108 2015-02-20T21:53:55.900Z · score: 5 (6 votes)
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapters 105-107 2015-02-17T01:17:07.195Z · score: 6 (7 votes)
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 104 2015-02-16T01:24:02.319Z · score: 8 (9 votes)
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, January 2015, chapter 103 2015-01-29T01:44:54.482Z · score: 7 (10 votes)

Comments

Comment by b_sen on Lesswrong 2016 Survey · 2016-03-27T06:21:30.840Z · score: 36 (36 votes) · LW · GW

I took the survey!

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 119 · 2015-03-12T17:43:36.275Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

By "fanfic" do you mean: 1) the written content itself, 2) the model of the fictional universe (including characters) generated in the process of writing that content, 3) the model of the fictional universe (including characters) generated in the process of reading that content, or 4) something else?

The written content is unlikely to bootstrap itself on account of not being code, but its effects on the minds that read it are less clear.

In all seriousness, though, if I had a fully mapped out path for bootstrapping well beyond human intelligence I would have better uses for it than writing recursive Harry Potter fanfiction. I was thinking more along the lines of Harry fixing his dark side and interpreting the Unbreakable Vow.

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 119 · 2015-03-12T15:24:23.857Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Adding to my previous prediction comment:

Predictions: (I'll have to score them all after the epilogue is released, but hey, it means we get an epilogue.)

The "phoenix’s egg" password will (directly or indirectly) allow Harry to find Narcissa Malfoy. 70%

The Line of Merlin feeds information to its rightful holder when they’re holding it. 60%

At least one Legilimency conversation occurred during Chapter 119. 90%

Speculations:

What happens if Harry casts the True Patronus through the Elder Wand? Given that it’s a Deathly Hallow that raises the priors of something interesting happening with a spell embodying a preference for life over death, but with the "sense of strength and constrained danger, like a leashed wolf" Harry feels when holding it I’m not sure what the effect would be.

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 119 · 2015-03-12T01:41:22.179Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I don't have a link offhand, but I recall EY stating his reasons for not boosting Hermione:

  • She doesn't need the boost to compete with the other characters, including Harry
  • If she was boosted, the story would be "Hermione Granger Discovers the Methods of Rationality and Becomes Omnipotent" (i.e. a thoroughly power-boosted Hermione would break the story)
  • A boosted Hermione would plausibly be smarter then EY
Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 119 · 2015-03-11T13:40:06.506Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The Author's Note mention of the delayed epilogue (combined with some of the foreshadowing in HPMOR) feels to me like an invitation to write the obvious continuation fic Harry Potter and the Methods of Self-Modification, set between the ending of HPMOR and the epilogue. Does anyone else find this the obvious continuation?

I'm also not sure if writing the fic would actually be a good idea; anyone want to help me evaluate it?

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 118 · 2015-03-10T16:00:00.892Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I hope Voldemort's "fallback weapon" also had sunlight-resistant skin. Otherwise Hermione might have issues with going outside...

I also take it that Harry's refusal to give Quirrell's eulogy even before he knew Q = V is because of his views on death in general.

Speaking of the eulogy, is Harry cheering at the end? And does he have any way of protecting his Transfigurations against Finite Incantatem?

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 117 · 2015-03-10T15:55:49.020Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Assuming it's her arm, which is plausible given that Harry noticed its thinness but isn't confirmed. In any case, I was mainly just raising the question.

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 117 · 2015-03-09T18:52:46.546Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder if Harry can help Draco by teaching him the True Patronus (possibly to have Draco resurrect Lucius). It would be a nice callback to their early scientific discoveries and Harry teaching Draco Patronus 1.0, although Harry might have to be very careful about how he does it.

I also notice that Lesath wasn't among the kids who'd lost parents, so they didn't find Bellatrix among the Death Eaters at the graveyard. Where is Bellatrix?

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 116 · 2015-03-08T18:45:49.554Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Adding to my previous prediction comment:

Predictions:

Harry did at least one plot-relevant thing in the time we haven’t seen (between him time-turning back at the graveyard in Chapter 115 and returning to the Quidditch match for Chapter 116). 80%

Harry intentionally made his scar bleed in Chapter 116. 95% (Perhaps using Muggle special effects?)

Someone will see through Harry’s acting (in Chapter 116 at the Quidditch match), whether by deducing things themselves or being told some part of what really happened, by the end of the story. 90%

Draco will figure out that Harry was involved in Voldemort’s recent defeat. 70% (This does not specify how he figures it out, although Harry has left several big clues besides his bad acting. For example, the stone in his ring changing colour before Voldemort dies and him falling to his knees only when he hears the explosion rather than 20 seconds earlier.)

Some thought in-universe will be given to saving Lucius from death by Harry’s partial Transfiguration by the end of the story. 75%

The "luminous white quiver running over the holly" and "drifting motes of silver light like tiny specks of Patronus Charm" when Harry Obliviates Voldemort in Chapter 115 are not normal for Obliviation. 90%

The "luminous white quiver running over the holly" and "drifting motes of silver light like tiny specks of Patronus Charm" when Harry Obliviates Voldemort in Chapter 115 indicate something. 80%

Obliviated Voldemort will retain the memory of at least one instance of casting the starlight spell for Harry. 50%

Harry will insist that Hermione learn to protect her mind. 75%

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115 · 2015-03-08T05:55:23.871Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This.

Voldemort's not only being paranoid enough to strip Harry's clothes from him, he's being careful and cautious enough to remove an object Harry Transfigured without letting their magics interact. That kind of attitude is jarringly inconsistent with leaving Harry his wand for no apparent reason.

Luke_A_Somers already suggested adding a reason for Harry to have his wand. I think that adding such a reason combined with changes that increase our estimate of Voldemort's estimate of P(Time will try to thwart Voldemort's attempt to avert the prophecy through something other than Harry | Time will try to thwart Voldemort's attempt to avert the prophecy) would make things seem much more consistent; leaving Harry his clothes and having some (not necessarily most) of the Death Eaters looking outwards would both help with the latter.

The reason I suggest increasing readers' estimates of Voldemort's estimate of P(Time will try to thwart Voldemort's attempt to avert the prophecy through something other than Harry | Time will try to thwart Voldemort's attempt to avert the prophecy) rather than just making Voldemort less paranoid overall in this situation is to avoid worsening the Villain Ball complaints; shifting his paranoia partly elsewhere allows him to be the sharp antagonist we're expecting while suggesting that he's confident the precautions he takes are sufficient to neutralize Harry as a threat (which allows Harry to win). That confidence isn't out of place for his character - even though he's read Muggle books, it's entirely plausible that he hasn't integrated that knowledge well enough to start questioning what he knows as the limits of magic (and thereby come to think of partial Transfiguration, or more generally realize that Harry might question those limits and succeed in discovering something he can wordlessly cast without pointing his wand).

The particular changes I mentioned also have the side benefit of not really affecting the major proposed solutions to the Final Exam. If you do change it, I think a historical version should be preserved for correspondence with the Collective Intelligence's effort.

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 113 · 2015-03-03T05:56:31.069Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

(EDIT: formatting)

The Obvious Solution, Continued:

"I offer you hint towardss power over life-eaterss, and alsso propossal for what to do with knowledge. Propossal is ssafe and so iss hint, no malice in either."

The snakish face now looked decidedly interested.

"Hint iss happy thought for guardian Charm. Thought of defeating death for good, in doing sso preventing eventual apocalypsse, desstruction of humanss. Including wizardkind."

He hadn’t wanted to give away any secrets, but the happy thought didn’t give away the nature of Dementors directly and was indeed only a hint, although a fairly blatant one when combined with the Parseltongue name for Dementors. Besides, he needed to convince Voldemort of his belief in that thought, in that possible future, for this next part to work...

"Including you, teacher. Sstill prefer your life to your death, even knowing you to be Dark Lord. Decided to usse Muggle weapon only to sset back your plot, wass not attempt on your true life. "

Carefully, now the carrot...

"Future I intend to create would be pleassant for you, give you many opportunitiess to follow dessiress wherever they lead. Wissh to plot againsst invoker of Parsselmouth cursse himsself? I would bring him back to life too, with your help."

Those red eyes widened ever-so-slightly at the idea of plotting against Salazar Slytherin.

"Wissh to have many intelligent opponentss at once, play game with more than one plotter and more than one plan? You would not have to worry about death, not even about ssafety of horcruxess. Not even exploding sstar could causse your death or other catasstrophe; would improve sspace travel, sspread society among sstarss. Not even idiotss could cause dissasster; ssafeguardss would be improved. Idiotss would alsso be kept well away from you - I know how much you disslike dealing with them."

Just a little bit of a scare away from his plan, not too much...

"Can purssue thiss - musst purssue thiss - without unnecessary risk of desstruction. Girl-child friend is voice of caution, will advisse me on conducting ressearchess with care greater than mosst wizardbornss, will not allow me to breach ssealss that I sshould not breach, nor allow knowledge to fall into handss of idiotss. But Vow makess me tell you girl-child friend would notice that your plan may be prophecied dissasster, ssince you were hearer and many would conssider Dark Lord’ss rule dissasster. You may wake her and explain everything to check, if you believe my undersstanding of her incomplete."

Voldemort shook his head once. "Not necessary. Finissh explaining propossal."

"You ssaid earlier that between uss we would decline to play out dramatic battle, that ssuch battle between uss wass figment of former sschoolmasster’ss imagination. You are correct. Do not wissh to battle you. Wissh insstead to battle death together, create greater world for uss both."

And now to spring the dilemma.

"But Vow tiess my handss. If you agree to help me, and provide assurancess ssufficient to ssatissfy girl-child friend in her right mind, then I would help you create dessirable world as desscribed. But if you inssisst on plan to rule as Dark Lord, girl-child friend would conssider it dissasster sset in motion by my hand, desstructive inaction if I did not try to sstop you. Sshe would demand I try if all thiss were confided in her. And action to sstop you would not be sstupidity; order sservantss to harm me, or lead me to ssusspect that you are doing sso, and they all die on sspot. Would rather not demonsstrate; will be eassier for you to provide ssufficient assurancess with at leasst ssome of sservantss alive."

It was elegant, really, identical actions in a Prisoner’s Dilemma forced by an Unbreakable Vow that his opponent devised the text of. Malice had nothing to do with it, not on Harry's part.

"Vow givess me no choice; can only help you if you agree to help me. And quickly, or it may force me to kill sservantss."


(Notice the side order of currently-slow takeoff and extreme goal-directedness, along with Harry escaping the box.)

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 113 · 2015-03-03T05:56:04.004Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

(EDIT: formatting)

The Obvious Solution: Avert Destruction at Every Possible Point of Intervention

Notice that the solution classes above are not mutually exclusive at the planning stage, and can even be combined with some as backups for others. Naturally, then, part of the lesson is to do exactly that - because Harry needs this to succeed.

To show that I can figure out exactly how to combine them and the details of how Harry should talk his way out of the box, I’m going to write out the combination as a hypothetical Chapter 114. Doing so requires me to pick specifics out of each solution class, but should get my point across.

Chapter 114: Final Exam Solution

Even as Voldemort was still hissing out his threats, Harry's mind started racing with wordless inferences.

Must at least evade immediate death - can't sort out how to deal with other problems if I'm dead -

- must also avoid unnecessary risk of destruction -

Voldemort had intended the Unbreakable Vow to compel no positive action in itself, nor to compel inaction in case of disasters already set in motion by Harry’s own actions. But being a knowing bystander to disaster, when he could have intervened, would be allowing it to happen by his own actions just as much as if he had set it in motion himself; Hermione would agree once she’d had everything explained and come to understand heroic responsibility.

There were catastrophes every day; 150 000 deaths a day could hardly be considered anything less. Hermione would want those lives saved, just like he would. And unless someone ended death, humanity (and life) would die out eventually. It was a statistical fact that those two different spirits could not exist in the same world.

Any vow was Unbreakable, if made by the right person.

- the Vow requires me to choose Light and world optimization, therefore my survival decreases the risk and expected severity of future disasters barring exceptions like self-sacrifice -

And now Harry couldn’t slow his thoughts down to put them in words, not even if he wanted to, not while his survival depended on thinking quickly; the Unbreakable Vow he had sworn was driving his best efforts as a rationalist towards the course of least destruction and he couldn’t stop it any more than an Artificial Intelligence could disobey its programming.

- he just said I have sixty seconds; how can I get out of this or at least stall for more time without drawing fire from the Death Eaters -

- spells requiring incantations or wand movements are out of the question, but free Transfiguration uses neither -

A wordless image of Transfiguring a cross-section through the troll’s brain flashed through his mind. To kill thirty-six Death Eaters at once, though, he’d need to pick a small but immediately fatal cross-section so that the total volume would stay small enough to affect quickly -

- sever the medulla oblongata and they die in a fifth of a second -

Free Transfiguration required his wand to be touching part of the volume he wanted to Transfigure, but there was no reason to limit partial Transfiguration to part of one object, not now that he’d put so much practice into seeing past the illusion of objects in order to perform partial Transfiguration in the first place. And while he could retest Transfiguring air now that he understood partial Transfiguration, he didn’t want to risk giving anything away by looking down near his wand.

- wands are robust to minor chemical burns -

Harry visualized a thin line (noticeably less than a millimeter thick) along the outside of his wand from the tip to his pinky finger, up his skin to his shoulder and then back down to his heel where it touched the bare ground. The line then split into thirty-six separate lines along the ground, one for each Death Eater, leading to their shoes, through their shoes and socks, and finally up their bodies to the desired cross-section of brain.

His conscientious Transfiguration practice had done him a great deal of good; not only could he hold the complex volume in mind while continuing to think, but his shaping practice would also let him Transfigure only the intended cross-sections into sulfuric acid without sustaining damage from routing the connecting line through his body. After getting those sections to Transfigure first, he would just cancel the Transfiguration rather than complete it. As further protection against damage, he also chose a target form with no changes to the material along the connecting lines, keeping the acid only where it would be needed.

He held the visualization of this Transfiguration in his mind, ready to perform it at a moment’s notice if it were needed, but didn’t cast the spell just yet.

- I have a plan now, but it involves thirty-six deaths and doesn’t buy me much time. Voldemort will use Muggle methods to kill me if he has to; at best I might be able to escape on Quirrell’s broomstick-bones and maybe grab the pouch and Stone while he’s distracted. -

Time to look for a better plan, or rather additional plans. Hermione would also consider Voldemort’s plan a massive catastrophe, and that was definitely aided by Harry being stupid. He hadn’t sufficiently questioned Quirrell, hadn’t kept the symbol of the Deathly Hallows a secret rather than showing it to Quirrell, hadn’t reconsidered telling McGonagall about the sense of doom, hadn’t told the Order what really happened in the Azkaban breakout, hadn’t declined the Azkaban breakout as a stupid idea, hadn’t realized something was wrong with the note before going back in time, too many mistakes to enumerate now...

...so now he had to keep planning to stop Voldemort, had to avert disaster at every possible point of intervention. And also improve his ability to continue averting disaster afterwards if he survived -

- besides just survival, self-improvement and acquiring more resources are also useful -

The terrible clarity continued to strengthen its grip on his mind, although it no longer felt Dark now that it had been harnessed this way. It felt... integrated, a set of skills that retained their chaining to each other but also blended smoothly into the rest of his mind.

(Somewhere in a distant back part of his mind, Harry noted just how much the Unbreakable Vow had altered his mind and made a note to restore pre-Vow Harry in a more optimized world, then let him choose how he wanted to live his life.)

Destroy Voldemort’s current body by Transfiguring part of the ground underneath him into antimatter: Would be a setback to him, but is also a self-sacrifice move. Hermione might survive to become a Light Lady if I keep the amount small enough. Keep the idea around in case self-sacrifice seems worth it later, but keep looking for more plans.

Cast a spell on Voldemort directly and hope the resonance kills him: Another self-sacrifice move, and will probably draw fire from the Death Eaters unless I make it a quick Transfiguration I can finish before the resonance gets me too. I have no assurance that doing so will kill him rather than just force him out of his current body. Keep looking.

Tell Voldemort some secrets that aren’t actually that useful: Largely failure. Stalls for time, but he’ll rapidly grow impatient.

Tell Voldemort some secrets that are useful: Also largely a failure. Better stall for time at the expense of adding to his future power and making him harder to stop later, and he’s probably still going to kill me.

Voldemort seems to have most of the immediate power here. For him to keep you alive, you’ll have to convince him that it’s in his best interests to do so. You must either find something you have that he wants, or find something you can do which he fears, and present it in such a way as not to immediately raise his guard against persuasion...

Ah.

Transfiguration options still at the ready, he began to hiss...


(remainder in child comment due to length limits)

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 113 · 2015-03-03T05:55:01.887Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Solution Class 3: "You Are Not My True Enemy", aka Talking his Way Out of the Box

The Dark Lord's utility function isn't changeable by talking, but that doesn't prevent Harry from convincing him that his current utility function would be better served by leaving Harry alive, or possibly even helping with Harry's plans. I propose a step-by-step method for doing so below.

Step 1: Explain in Parseltongue that while his power over Dementors must be understood for oneself, as a hint towards this power he will share what his happy thought is for the Patronus Charm. Furthermore, he will offer a proposal for what the Dark Lord might want to do with this knowledge.

Step 2: Explain in Parseltongue that his happy thought is defeating death for everyone (and the improved, much less destructible human race that would come along with doing that well).

Step 3: Point out in Parseltongue that "everyone" includes Voldemort and that Harry's earlier statement of preferring Quirrell’s life to his death still holds after his identity was revealed. Segue into explaining that his decision to shoot was made intending only temporary incapacitation rather than death.

Step 4: Tempt Voldemort, still in Parseltongue, by offering an improved society where he is not only safe from death, but can also plot against many competent opponents including deceased ones like Salazar Slytherin. Implicitly contrast this with Voldemort's plan, which is unlikely to produce any competent opponents and leaves him still worrying about his Horcruxes. What will he do if some other magical civilization eventually destroys that golden plaque?

Step 5: Continue tempting Voldemort in Parseltongue by pointing out that in such a society he wouldn't have to deal with idiots and wouldn’t have to worry about others destroying the world. State that he knows how annoying idiots are to Voldemort, so this is a major benefit. Further, remind him that Harry must stay away from destruction, or even allowing others the knowledge with which to destroy the world, in pursuing this society.

Step 6: Explain in Parseltongue that the Vow also requires him to point out that Voldemort might be the one to fulfill the prophecy, especially since he was its hearer and many people would consider his plan highly destructive.

Step 7: After piquing Voldemort's curiosity about why the Vow might require Harry to say this, state in Parseltongue that Harry, like Voldemort, also wishes to decline playing out the drama that Dumbledore imagines.

Step 8: Propose in Parseltongue that they cooperate to bring about a future world such as what Harry described, one they both much prefer to Voldemort’s plan. Point out also that Harry’s hands are tied by the Vow; he cannot allow Voldemort's plan to go through because Hermione would oppose Voldemort’s plans as destructive and consider them enabled by Harry.

For further demonstration of how to perform these steps, see the Obvious Solution.

(remainder in child comment due to length limits)

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 113 · 2015-03-03T05:53:33.819Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My apologies if I'm repeating anything that's already been said; I've been isolating myself from the online discussion to attempt the Final Exam by myself. So here's what I've got:

I'm pleased with myself for coming up with the first two solution classes I've listed (and vague ideas about the third, which I later separated into its own class) within 60 seconds, but I didn’t come up with the full Obvious Solution in that time. More work to do...

Solution Class 1: Transfiguration

We know that Harry can Transfigure acids nasty enough to instakill when used to replace a small cross-section of a brain, because this is what he did to the troll (Chapter 89). His ability to perform partial Transfiguration in general is by now well-established. We also know from Chapter 104 that Harry can control how a Transfiguring object approaches the completed Transfigured form, as demonstrated by him succeeding at the shaping exercises he was doing during the Quidditch game. McGonagall also establishes in Chapter 15 that free Transfiguration is wordless and requires no wand movements (only contact between the wand and some part of whatever is to be Transfigured), so Harry can perform a Transfiguration without drawing fire from the Death Eaters by speaking incantations or making wand movements. This solution class involves Harry evading immediate death by combining partial Transfiguration with shaping control to kill the Death Eaters without drawing their fire or killing himself in the process.

In order to kill the Death Eaters, he can use partial Transfiguration to Transfigure a thin cross-section of their brains, much like he did with the troll. However, he will want to choose a cross-section that has a very small total volume for each brain so that he can affect all 36 Death Eaters simultaneously and still make the Transfiguration quick enough to be done before they can react. Some vital part of the brain stem (say, the medulla oblongata) will do nicely. If he wanted to be sure, he could also take a slightly larger cross-section and sever some of the major arteries nearby (supplying assorted parts of the brain) as well.

However, he must choose a volume to Transfigure such that some part of it touches his wand. It is unclear if the requirement is that the volume touches the tip of his wand or merely any part, but either case is solvable.

If he can feel whether a Transfiguration takes or fails, as he has been able to for other spells (such as when he tried to Finite and Alohomora the door in Chapter 23 after Draco locked him in), then he may safely test whether partial Transfiguration allows him to Transfigure air (he didn’t test this since discovering partial Transfiguration) by attempting to Transfigure a tiny volume of air near his wand into something safe (like steel) and feeling whether it takes. Because of the small volume, this test should take less than 5 seconds, not be visible to others, and he should be able to do other things while he’s at it. If he can’t feel whether a Transfiguration takes or fails, he shouldn’t attempt this test and should assume he can’t do so.

If he knows he can partly Transfigure air, he can choose a volume consisting of thin lines of air from the tip of his wand to each Death Eater, further thin lines through each Death Eater’s armor and clothing leading from the air to the chosen cross-section of brain, and the chosen cross-section itself in each Death Eater. He could also choose a volume consisting of a thin line of air from his wand to the ground, and then proceed from the ground using Transfiguration of solids (in case, say, gaseous Transfiguration is harder). (This also opens up the option to quickly Transfigure objects out of the air that will kill the Death Eaters, such as very thin blades, but I don’t know any materials offhand that would have the required compressive strength to make a very thin blade that can nevertheless behead a Death Eater fast enough. Carbon nanotubes might just break, although Transfiguring against tension may help.)

If he doesn’t know he can partly Transfigure air, he can choose a volume composed of solid objects connecting his wand to the desired cross-section. If the volume must touch any part of his wand but does not have to touch the tip, he can choose a volume consisting of a thin line through one of his fingers (preferably the pinky finger just in case something goes wrong) touching the wand up his arm, then down the outside of his torso and leg to the ground, further thin lines through the ground to each Death Eater, yet further thin lines from the ground underneath each Death Eater through their shoes, socks, and bodies to the chosen cross-section of brain, and the chosen cross-section itself in each Death Eater. If the volume must touch the tip of his wand, he can either grasp his wand by the tip without raising it or start the volume with a thin line along the outside of his wand from the tip to one of his fingers, then proceed as above with a volume composed of solid objects. (Recall from Chapter 91 that his wand is robust against small chemical burns.)

Finally, he can use his shaping abilities to Transfigure the desired cross-sections of Death Eater brains into acid before the Transfiguration takes effect on the remainder of the volume, then choose not to complete the Transfiguration of the entire volume (thereby avoiding damage himself). As a further backup, he can also choose a multi-part target form such that the remainder of the volume is Transfigured into something harmless (possibly even exactly what it was before) just in case.

If he can figure out which Death Eater is Lucius (through the code names, perhaps?) he might choose to spare Lucius and hope for his aid.

(Partial) Solution Class 2: Self-Sacrifice

Harry might reason that Voldemort gaining power and taking over the world is a disaster already set in motion by his hand, because he didn’t sufficiently question Quirrell / refrain from showing Quirrell the Hallows symbol / tell Dumbledore about the sense of doom / tell the Order what really happened in the Azkaban breakout, etc. and Hermione would consider Voldemort’s reign a catastrophe. Under the Vow, this would allow him to take lesser risks in order to stop Voldemort or even deal major setbacks to Voldemort’s plan.

So Harry might be willing to risk his own life in order to discarnate Voldemort (and maybe kill the Death Eaters). He could try casting on Voldemort, but that seems stupid in comparison to using the partial Transfiguration attack with the addition of Transfiguring the ground under Voldemort into antimatter (or possibly other suitable explosives if he knows them well enough to Transfigure, but antimatter has the advantages of needing very little Transfigured mass and not leaving any debris that will revert). In order to be sure of discarnating Voldemort, Harry will probably have to let himself be caught in the blast radius; the hope would be that newly enhanced Hermione will survive and maybe become a Light Lady. Alternatively, if Harry has some reason to know that casting on Voldemort would kill (rather than just discarnate) him, that might be enough reason to cast on him despite drawing fire from the Death Eaters.

This is not a complete solution class because it doesn’t let Harry evade immediate death, but it still seems better than death on Voldemort’s terms.

Harry might also notice that the Unbreakable Vow is mind-altering magic and consider it strong enough that he is no longer the same person from before the vow. This might reset his phoenix eligibility, so he might survive anyway on the tiny off-chance that Voldemort and the Death Eaters didn’t put anti-phoenix wards up.

(remainder in child comment due to length limits)

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 112 · 2015-02-28T19:34:28.288Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Just thought of another speculation:

If the unicorn’s blood belonging in Hermione (Chapter 111) will keep her alive, does that mean she could sustain a True Patronus indefinitely (with the unicorn’s blood replenishing her life)?

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 112 · 2015-02-28T19:25:49.231Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Adding to my previous prediction comment:

Predictions:

The Transfiguration shaping exercise Harry was doing at the Quidditch match (Chapter 104) will become plot-relevant. 75%

Conditional on Harry "tear[ing] apart the very stars in heaven", him doing so will be a good thing rather than the disaster Voldemort thinks it will be. 80%

Speculations:

Lucius is in a tight spot here. He pledged the House of Malfoy against Hermione’s killer... who turns out to be Voldemort, who has now summoned him and is giving him orders. Perhaps Lucius will help Harry out? Especially since all the Death Eaters have been instructed to watch and point their wands at Harry, not each other, distracting them from any attacks coming from other Death Eaters. Costs of (assuming) unity?

Harry could use the shaping exercise + partial Transfiguration to his advantage. Even if he still can’t Transfigure air, he could Transfigure a thin line through his own body to the ground and into a small cross-section of the Death Eaters’ brains. (Having to go through his own body is why this wasn’t viable before.) All he would have to do is make that Transfigured section acid or some other convenient instakill (or insta-incapacitate if he prefers and can figure one out), use the shaping to get it in the Death Eaters’ brains first, and then stop before finishing the Transfiguration. If he can cast on Voldemort, then that’s even better because he can use the same trick on Voldemort simultaneously.

Presumably Voldemort took the Transfigured rock from Harry by only acting on the ring and using those forces to take the jewel along. That jewel may now be a 'ticking' bomb in two senses: 1) the Transfiguration will eventually wear off if not sustained or made permanent and 2) Voldemort touching the jewel directly would mean coming in contact with Harry’s magic.

When Harry uses the True Patronus to resurrect Hermione, he expends a small portion of his life and magic. Yet there is no indication that Hermione is limited to that small portion; she seems just as alive and magical as other first-year Hogwarts students. If that’s true, that implies that the True Patronus provides a positive-sum resurrection method (summing over the total pools of wizarding life and magic). IIRC all the other resurrection / immortality methods are zero-sum at best.

How long does that "spell of repose" Voldemort cast on Hermione (Chapter 111) last? If it’s worn off by now, I’d expect the gunshots and Death Eaters arriving to wake her, although she might be faking sleep (as she did in some of the army battles). It would be very nice for her to wake up soon.

Observations:

I notice that Chapter 112 has lots of moonlight and black robes, which suggests that the snippet at the start of Chapter 1 is coming up.

I notice I am confused about the heavily "storybook" nature of the last few chapters. Is Bahl’s Stupefaction (or similar) in play?

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 112 · 2015-02-25T21:13:12.690Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I get the feeling that splitting it up like that was intended to be a test of if we could figure out the flaw in Harry's plan quickly, much like Harry himself needing (and failing) to figure it out fast.

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 111 · 2015-02-25T20:20:23.350Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

He did tell Fred and George that their contact might have to go outside Britain for some of the items, so...

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 111 · 2015-02-25T19:41:48.070Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I see. Point taken, then.

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 111 · 2015-02-25T19:37:13.520Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Before that meeting Harry fiddled briefly under his sheets. Maybe he took the Transfigured ring off and put the real one on at that time?

Alternatively, he might have used a different hiding-place for Hermione back then and only Transfigured her into the toe-ring later.

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 111 · 2015-02-25T19:34:18.103Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Where's he getting the spirit?

Harry's Patronus appears to have solved that problem, although we don't know how. "Not another Tom Riddle" suggests that it worked.

How does the Stone help?

Hermione's body needs significant repair, and the only way we know of for the repairs in question (once the person is dead) is permanent Transfiguration.

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 111 · 2015-02-25T19:27:43.373Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think it's more plausible that the mirror acts like it does in canon; that is, you see the room you're in, plus some features that you deeply desire; you don't see yourself leave the room unless you actually leave the room.

They did leave the room and go to a graveyard before Hermione was resurrected.

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 111 · 2015-02-25T19:24:09.050Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Voldemort would not have given the properties to his body before now, because he had not had the Stone, and without its permanence effect, after a few hours the transferred properties would wear off.

Voldemort also says that the subject sometimes dies when the properties wear off, so he has very good reason not to give them to his body earlier.

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 111 · 2015-02-25T19:20:00.971Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

True, but then Voldemort performed magical rituals on Hermione. I imagine that ritual magic would also count as magic interacting, although it's possible that it doesn't.

It's also possible that the Patronus is somehow protective from whatever Dark magic Voldemort just attempted (and needed to kill Quirrell for). Good point, in any case.

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 111 · 2015-02-25T19:05:45.800Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Some quick predictions before the next chapter, adding to my previous prediction comment:

Conditional on the Mirror being involved in a test meant to distinguish some subset of rationalists (not necessarily a proper subset) from other people, Harry will pass its test by the end of the story. 95% (See my previous prediction comment for why I think this is a sufficiently plausible hypothesis to condition on.)

Conditional on the Mirror being involved in a test meant to distinguish Light Rationalists from other people, Voldemort will not pass its test without significant change to his values. 95% (See my previous prediction comment for why I think this is a sufficiently plausible hypothesis to condition on.)

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 111 · 2015-02-25T18:56:44.210Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

So it looks like some of Harry's magic is on the diary for whatever reason, because Voldemort casting a spell on the diary sets off the resonance hard. Did Harry cast a spell on it earlier?

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 110 · 2015-02-24T21:43:48.103Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Grab the Elder Wand, Harry!

...

Is Dumbledore also passing the Line of Merlin to Harry? We don't know what's required to pass the Line between holders.

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 109 · 2015-02-24T20:03:52.207Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My previous prediction comment is here.

Also, the subtle hints at reflective consistency are both funny and hints to Harry about the Mirror's nature.

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 109 · 2015-02-24T20:00:26.551Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Observe that the writing on the back of the Mirror is in runes, not any particular alphabet. The fact that Harry can read anything out of them at all suggests that there is an effect meant to make them 'readable' regardless of what languages / alphabets the reader knows. This effect was presumably placed by someone who knew what the Mirror does and wanted to make sure that knowledge was preserved even if languages changed and the history of the Mirror was lost.

But then why would someone want to obscure the answer by making those runes the Words of False Comprehension? The end result of having both effects in place is that readers get a simple puzzle in a language they know, hidden behind a magical effect that makes them believe they understand the runes without any further effort. What goal would motivate a great effort to make the puzzle solvable, but only if you realize it’s there to be solved?

My answer is that it’s not a test of "can you read backwards and fix some spacing in a language you know," it’s a test of basic rationality skills. The word reversal and changed spacing is just to prevent bypassing the rationality test.

What would someone reading the back of the Mirror need to do, to solve the puzzle? Ask the fundamental question of rationality: "What do I think I know, and why do I think I know it?" Realize that their initial beliefs about the meaning of the runes are free-floating beliefs, ones that don’t connect to the rest of their beliefs and don’t constrain anticipations. Realize that the free-floating beliefs are useless, discard them, and look past the false feeling of comprehension. Find the real puzzle, possibly aided by hearing that the runes are Words of False Comprehension.

And then once they’ve found it and converted it to words they recognize, put in the effort to understand what the words actually mean and connect those words to the rest of their beliefs rather than guessing the teacher’s password. We know that "coherent extrapolated volition" has a specific technical meaning, but Harry doesn’t and is going to have to work it out from his knowledge of English and stories about the Mirror.

Also: "It is claimed by several authorities that the Mirror alone of all magics possesses a true moral orientation".

So here are my predictions:

At the end of Chapter 109, Quirrell and Harry are trapped in an alternate plane generated by the Mirror. 65%

Harry and Quirrell are going to wind up on different sides of the Mirror. 60%

Confunded!Quirrell received a fake Stone. 50%

Quirrell’s conception of Dumbledore, as Quirrell used to Confund himself, lacks full human wish complexity. 80%

There is a magical 'translation' effect (not the False Comprehension effect, although both may be part of the same spell) on the runes on the Mirror which enables people to 'read' the runes. 95%

The Mirror is involved in a test meant to distinguish some subset of rationalists (not necessarily a proper subset) from other people. 80%

The Mirror is involved in a test meant to distinguish Light Rationalists from other people, under some conception of Light / Good. 75%

Conditional on the Mirror being involved in a test meant to distinguish some subset of rationalists (not necessarily a proper subset) from other people, passing the test grants some type of additional power (including from knowing more about the Mirror and therefore being better able to use it). 90%

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 108 · 2015-02-23T05:12:04.370Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think you're right; on reflection, that's exactly the sort of thing I would expect rational!Peverells to do, plus the stone appears about the right age to be set up by the Peverells. Based on the same reflection, I agree with your predictions and the probabilities you've given them. Quoting for posterity:

Harry is the Master of Death, in the sense of being the primary magical owner of all three Hallows - 75%.

HJPEV counts as Tom Riddle, to the point that on death, the Horcrux network will attempt to update based on him. - 60%.

And I'll just make this my prediction comment for this thread. (Previous prediction comment.)

The prophecy stone in Chapter 96 ("the tall stone worn as though from a thousand years of age, upon it a line within a circle within a triangle glowing ever so faintly silver") and/or its behavior will become plot-relevant. 95% Otherwise it’s a major unfired Chekhov’s Gun.

The wand Quirrell produced from a false tooth in Chapter 107 (the one that he then uses to cast Fiendfyre) is the brother to Harry’s wand. 90%

Riddle’s Horcrux 2.0 (the improved version that resembles the 'false' description, but before he integrated the Resurrection Stone) is actually a lost earlier version of the Horcrux spell; Riddle rediscovered it. 70%

Observations:

This whole segment from Chapter 108 reminds me strongly of having something to protect:

"And you," said Professor Quirrell, "have no right to speak of happiness either. Happiness is not what you hold precious above all. You decided that in the beginning, all the way back in the beginning of this year, when the Sorting Hat offered you Hufflepuff. Which I know about, because I received a similar offer and warning all those years ago, and I refused it just as you did. Beyond this there is little more to say, between Tom Riddles."

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 108 · 2015-02-23T02:48:53.106Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

B. Harry himself is absorbed into the network. I'm not sure about all the implications of this. Obviously, he could attempt possessing someone, but this seems mostly against his moral code (unless he thought he could prevent more suffering by doing so.) Or he could potentially mess with the Horcux network internally.

I recall Quirrell saying that his spirit could fly free and choose a consenting person to possess if he so desired. Perhaps Lesath would let Harry borrow his body for a while?

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapters 105-107 · 2015-02-20T19:59:14.373Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Snape may also have an unknown game plan.

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 104 · 2015-02-20T19:53:26.160Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You could have a account for every prediction technique.

That seems like an excessive amount of work, especially once overlapping categories and domains come into play.

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapters 105-107 · 2015-02-20T19:50:06.391Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Ooooh. That may well be a challenge that behaves differently around people who were or weren't supposed to be there.

Perhaps solving the logic puzzle is sufficient to gain entry, and most students will either not think to flip the parchment over or get bored before they finish brewing the potion it describes. But Snape expects Voldemort to notice the lack of wards and decide to brew the potion, and accordingly has booby-trapped the potion in some manner that triggers upon its completion or after some time sufficient that he expects students to get bored first.

The duration may well also be significant for Time-Turning.

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapters 105-107 · 2015-02-20T19:40:47.070Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Adding to my previous prediction comment:

Predictions:

Harry attempted to obtain a useful object (such as Snape’s wand) when he knocked Snape over in Chapter 106. 75%

The ritual which promises to summon Death itself (Chapter 74) summons a Dementor. 80%

The lost counterspell to dismiss whatever is summoned by the ritual involving "a rope which has hanged a man and a sword which has slain a woman" (Chapter 74) is the True Patronus Charm. 80%

Harry’s mental development has been significantly influenced by his body’s descent from the Potter line. This includes genetic effects, heritable magical effects, and interactions between such effects and his environment, but excludes purely environmental effects of being raised in the Verres-Evans household. 70% (In other words, suppose the following counterfactual: Voldemort came to believe that the prophecy referred to a different wizarding infant child who had been living in a similar environment up to that point (canonically Neville also fits the prophecy), attacked that household in order to perform whatever mind-altering magic he actually performed on the infant Harry on the other infant child, and leaves all blood relatives who would otherwise care for the child dead / insane / otherwise unable to do so. Suppose further that Dumbledore asks Petunia to adopt this infant, so this hypothetical other child is also raised in the Verres-Evans household. My prediction is that there would be some significant difference between this hypothetical child’s mental development and Harry’s mental development.)

The procedure Voldemort describes that "destroyed all but a remnant of Harry Potter" (Chapter 105) involved a Horcrux. 75%

Quirrell was enhancing Sprout’s and Susan’s magic in the battle in Chapter 104. 70%

Snape is still capable of somehow intervening in Voldemort’s plot, despite the bodily control spell Voldemort used. 50%

Speculations:

Snape may be an Occlumens. In Chapter 27, Harry recalls that "the book said that a successful Legilimens was extremely rare, rarer than a perfect Occlumens, because almost no one had enough mental discipline." Since Snape clearly has the discipline, the awareness of mind magics, the (at least outward) ability to pretend, and motivation to learn Occlumency (it would be extremely useful to someone in his position), he may well have become an Occlumens at some point.

Observations:

Quirrell is messing with Time. Recall Harry’s experiment with Time in Chapter 17, where he precommitted to an algorithm for recovering prime factors of a large number that relies on the stable-loop property of Time-Turners, but got the unexpected result of "DO NOT MESS WITH TIME" instead. His precommitment had failed to rule out the logical universe where he got "DO NOT MESS WITH TIME".

Quirrell is clearly relying on the stable-loop property of Time-Turners when he says "Oh, we have time. There would be a great uproar if we were discovered here, guarded by an Inferius. You did not act like you had heard of such an uproar at your Quidditch match, before you arrived in this time and spoke to Snape as you did." (Chapter 107) Leaning on this property to get what you want seems to be the definition of messing with Time, and also something we can expect Quirrell to be inclined towards based on his similarities with Harry.

Now suppose that Quirrell made the following precommitment in order to further lean on this property: "If my plot involving the boy known as Harry Potter succeeds in its objectives by 10:30 PM, I will then arrange for the note asking him to come to the forbidden corridor to be sent to him at such a time that he must use five spins of his Time-Turner. Otherwise, I will send no note to him." This precommitment appears to guarantee his success if Harry shows up, and in particular appears to rule out universes where Harry shows up and defeats Quirrell. But it doesn’t rule out logical universes where Harry shows up and defeats Quirrell because it doesn’t rule out logical universes that can be described by "Harry shows up, defeats Quirrell, and then arranges to have such a note sent to his past self for the purposes of paradox avoidance." So Quirrell just might wind up with a much nastier message not to mess with Time.

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 104 · 2015-02-19T04:32:33.494Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

How is PredictionBook for sharing evidence for one's predictions, back-and-forth discussion, logging 'categories' of predictions, detailed statistics (such as calibration changes over time, more granularity than 10% increments, etc.) and so on? Are there any specific features of PredictionBook you would recommend to me?

I ask because:

  • I want to participate in readable discussion as well as log my predictions; browsing as a not-logged-in user, PredictionBook appears to have a much less readable presentation for discussions.
  • I often have domain-specific prediction techniques and would want to check my calibration for each technique (and each domain) as well as overall. (To take MOR predictions as an example, I might make some predictions based on a feeling of "this looks like foreshadowing", others based on looking for themes, still others based on knowledge outside MOR itself, ... ) Come to think of it, both domains and categories can also overlap, but I still want to have that kind of feature available whether I make the graphs myself or not.

I do intend to check my calibration on my MOR predictions once MOR ends, regardless of where I put the predictions up.

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapters 105-107 · 2015-02-18T17:41:55.930Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

True, but that doesn't mean it won't help him eventually, and he may be able to hold out for those five hours.

Or Draco might have ordered Crabbe and Goyle to come find him if he doesn't return, or set other backup plans in motion.

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 104 · 2015-02-17T22:02:59.239Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm. Point taken. (Although the point that potion != transfiguration still holds.)

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapters 105-107 · 2015-02-17T22:00:29.746Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What could Harry use to get out of this pickle?

  • His mind, obviously, especially since negotiation is a possible action.
  • Wandless magic? (Presumably learned from Bacon's diary.) Probably not anything requiring lots of magical power, but recall from the Azkaban arc that he could dispel his own magic almost effortlessly even back then. Now that he finds second-year spells easy, he just might be able to wandlessly manage that or other spells requiring very little magical power, such as Somnium, Innervate, and the TPC. Or possibly very small transfigurations (like a millionth of a gram of botulinium toxin), since he's had so much practice with that branch of magic.
  • Anything he's already transfigured and is carrying with him. Sulphuric acid chips?
  • His control over Dementors, which he doesn't need spells for.
  • Ritual magic? He may not need a wand to perform a ritual.
  • Possibly a backup wand / Time-Turner / other useful device?
  • Mastery over his Cloak? He didn't give it to anyone as a possession.
  • Mastery / ownership of other objects? Perhaps the Philosopher's Stone also has an "owner" property?
  • Summoning a phoenix? Even if he can't get a phoenix of his own, he may be able to call one to aid him in a selfless act of heroism.
  • Plans (for help or otherwise) already set in motion? Someone might look for him at the Quidditch game (probably as part of the debate about the Snitch), realize that he's not there despite setting up the banner and being interested in the outcome of the debate, and go look for him. Or maybe he's hidden someone in his pouch, or told Cedric about what he's doing. Or due to the Bayesian Conspiracy, Draco will realize that he's been Obliviated and help Harry.

I've probably missed something, so feel free to add more in the replies.

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapters 105-107 · 2015-02-17T01:30:36.050Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Is there a consensus on when to post new threads (and conversely, when to keep using the old thread for new chapters) that I should be aware of? If so, please let me know.

For comparison, the thread before last is at 172 comments, although that's from late January.

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 104 · 2015-02-17T01:25:26.762Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Not necessarily. Dumbledore implies that Lily used a potion, and potions may not need the Philosopher's Stone for their effects to be permanent. (Harry thinks it's the Thestral blood, and guesses that Thestral blood is also responsible for the permanency of his Cloak's magic.)

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, January 2015, chapter 103 · 2015-02-17T01:21:41.690Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I have to pass on betting, unfortunately.

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 104 · 2015-02-16T23:35:29.173Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Adding to my previous prediction comment:

Predictions:

Harry can resist the Imperius (if it were to be cast on him). 90%

Quirrell enchanted Harry's pouch so that Quirrell can enter and leave on his own in his Animagus form, and there is no mention of those enchantments being removed after leaving Azkaban. This fact will become plot-relevant at some point in the final arc. 75%

Some magical effect was previously preventing / discouraging Harry from figuring out that Quirrell is Voldemort. 65%

Speculations:

The True Patronus appears to have more intelligence than Patronus 1.0. Animal Patronuses can send messages in their caster’s voice, carry replies back, answer yes/no questions, and lead their casters to people / other Patronuses they can find, but only Harry’s Patronus has shown any concern for who might overhear it and spoken without being commanded to by its caster (see chapter 56 for examples of all of these). Notice that Dumbledore wouldn’t expect a Patronus to warn its caster of another Patronus seeking it (otherwise using his Patronus to find an intruder would just tip the intruder off) and Harry doesn’t expect animal Patronuses to show any discretion about who might be listening (chapter 97). Harry’s Patronus is also the only one we see that can be willed to take a form other than its initial one (chapter 100).

If Harry becomes an Animagus, what sort of form would he have? Animagi who can cast corporeal Patronuses normally use the same species for both (for example, McGonagall), but Harry’s Patronus is human. Does this mean he would become a Metamorphagus?

Observations:

A Catalog of the Snippets of Later Events:

Chapter 1: (event not found as of Chapter 104)

Beneath the moonlight glints a tiny fragment of silver, a fraction of a line... (black robes, falling) ...blood spills out in litres, and someone screams a word.

Chapter 2: (event found in Chapter 90)

"Of course it was my fault. There's no one else here who could be responsible for anything."

Chapter 3: (event found a few lines later in the same chapter)

"But then the question is - who?"

Chapter 4: (event found in Chapter 6)

"World domination is such an ugly phrase. I prefer to call it world optimisation."

Chapter 5: (event found in Chapter 87)

"It would've required a supernatural intervention for him to have your morality given his environment."

Chapter 6: (event found near the end of the same chapter)

You think your day was surreal? Try mine.

Chapter 7: (event found in the middle of the same chapter)

"Your dad is almost as awesome as my dad."

Chapter 8: (event found about one-third of the way through the same chapter)

"Allow me to warn you that challenging my ingenuity is a dangerous sort of project, and may tend to make your life a lot more surreal."

Chapter 9: (event found about two-thirds of the way through the same chapter)

You never did know what tiny event might upset the course of your master plan.

Chapter 12: (event found near the end of the same chapter)

"Wonder what's wrong with him."

Chapter 13: (event found near the middle of the same chapter)

"That's one of the most obvious riddles I've ever heard."

Chapter 14: (event found about two-thirds of the way through the same chapter)

There were mysterious questions, but a mysterious answer was a contradiction in terms.

Chapter 15: (event found near the end of the same chapter)

"I'm sure I'll find the time somewhere."

Chapter 16: (event found near the end of the same chapter)

I'm not a psychopath, I'm just very creative.

Chapter 17: (event found near the middle of the same chapter)

"You start to see the pattern, hear the rhythm of the world."

Chapter 18: (event found near the middle of the same chapter)

"That does sound like the sort of thing I would do, doesn't it?"

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, January 2015, chapter 103 · 2015-02-16T22:33:52.881Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Point taken. (The quote is from the start of Chapter 89, in case anyone was wondering.)

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, January 2015, chapter 103 · 2015-02-16T01:03:49.836Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Registering some predictions and observations before the next chapter comes out:

Predictions:

The snippet at the start of Chapter 1 is from somewhere in the final chapter. 40%

Lily wasn’t making up the "excuses" Petunia mentioned in Chapter 1; she was indeed warned through some form of Divination that the world would end if she made Petunia pretty, and a centaur did actually tell her not to do so. 95%

Magic’s full power allows the user to rewrite reality. 99% (Look at Harry’s reaction to McGonagall’s Animagus transformation: "Magic isn't enough to do that! You'd have to be a god!" (Chapter 2))

Harry is going to bite someone at Hogwarts who bites him first. 50%

There are indeed "three [items] needed to complete the cycle of infinite wish spells" (Chapter 3) or otherwise ascend to godhood / rewrite reality, and they are the three Deathly Hallows. 75%

McGonagall is unwittingly correct when she says that Harry "triumphed over the Dark Lord by being more awful than he was, and survived the Killing Curse by being more terrible than Death." 60%

Harry will learn how to "cast a Confundus Charm on the entire universe" (Chapter 5). 50%

The "Bafflesnaffle Counter" will be used at some point in the final arc. 50% (Notice that every other item specifically described within the healer’s kit (Chapter 6) has been used at some point so far.)

The surviving Death Eaters will "attack the whole school to get at [Harry]" (Chapter 6). 50%

The fact that Obliviation doesn’t erase all the effects of the experience (Chapter 6) will become plot-relevant in some way, possibly through events that have already occurred (such as the Obliviations performed on Hermione and the Weasley twins). 95%

Sirius Black is not actually imprisoned in Azkaban. 85%

At some point in Harry’s fight against the Dark Lord, "the winner shall lose and the loser shall win" (Chapter 6). 50% (If the Dark Lord is Quirrell, then this may have already happened with Harry learning to lose.)

There will be "Ninety-Five Theses of the Snitchless Reformation" (Chapter 7). 50%

Conditional on there being "Ninety-Five Theses of the Snitchless Reformation" (Chapter 7), those theses will be nailed to a church door. 50%

The customer whom Harry asked about Lucius during the Incident at the Potions Shop (Chapter 7) is Snape. 90%

Harry is "going to tear apart [Draco’s] pathetic little magical remnant of the Dark Ages into pieces smaller than its constituent atoms" (Chapter 7). 98%

Harry will become capable of traveling more than six hours back in time, then return to the train to Hogwarts, making it true that "there are three of [Harry] on this train" (Chapter 8). 20%

The unknown terrible thing that Harry fears during his Sorting (Chapter 10) is that if he fails, Death wins. 80%

Harry will eventually remember his to-do list (Chapter 12). 50%

Hermione’s and Draco’s Christmas wishes will be fulfilled by the House Cup being awarded to Harry, with some acknowledgement of both his Houses. 60%

The note accompanying Harry’s Cloak was written by Dumbledore. 80%

The Remembrall glowing for Harry (Chapter 17) indicates that he’d forgotten something other than not revealing the secret of Time-Turners. 80%

McGonagall will "sit in the Headmaster's office and hear some hilarious tale about Professor Quirrell in which [Harry] and [Harry] alone play[s] a starring role, after which there will be no choice but to fire him" (Chapter 17). 80%

Quirrell will be fired on the last day of the school year. 80%

Snape’s statement that he "can teach you how to ... stopper death" (Chapter 18) will become important. 75%

Harry will eventually investigate Quirrell’s starlight spell. 50%

He-who-is-coming in Trelawney’s aborted prophecy (Chapter 21) is the more resolved Harry after Hermione dies. 90%

Quirrell is an intended hearer (there may be more than one) of Trelawney’s aborted prophecy (Chapter 21). 80%

At some point Draco will show Harry that he’s wrong. 85% (This may refer to the debtor’s meeting.)

Quirrell intentionally gave Harry a paper cut (Chapter 26) in order to forcibly obtain his blood. 90%

Bacon’s diary will teach Harry something about how magic works. 50%

In the prophecy in Chapter 28, at least one instance of "the Dark Lord" refers to Death. 80%

Conditional on "the Dark Lord" referring to Death, Death marking Harry as his equal has something to do with his ability to block the Killing Curse using the True Patronus. 65%

Conditional on "the Dark Lord" referring to Death, the power Death knows not is intelligence and/or rationality. 90%

In the prophecy in Chapter 28, at least one instance of "the Dark Lord" refers to Voldemort. 15%

In the prophecy in Chapter 28, the phrase "the Dark Lord" has multiple referents. 2%

The sense of doom Harry feels around Quirrell is proportional to Quirrell’s strength / health if the distance between Harry and Quirrell is held constant. 75%

No one person can be capable of casting both the True Patronus and the Killing Curse at the same time. 99%

Quirrell wanted to prevent Harry from saving Hermione. 85%

Harry has Transfigured Hermione’s corpse into the ring he wears. 75%

Speculations:

The "moonlight" described in the flash-forward within Chapter 1 could be Patronus light rather than actual moonlight; Patronus light has been described as moonlight repeatedly.

When McGonagall says that she’ll "find a solution [to Harry’s sleeping condition] in time" (Chapter 2), she could have already thought of a Time-Turner as a possible solution.

The nature of Transfiguration might be meant to make readers think about caution and unrecoverable disasters.

Animal Patronuses are easier to cast in the presence of a Dementor because a Dementor’s presence makes most people flinch away from the thought of death and think about something else instead.

The True Patronus is a magically embodied preference for life over death, the opposite of the Killing Curse (which Moody describes as a magically embodied preference for death over life).

Observations:

The 'dark' power of rationality that inhabits Harry is in fact contagious. (Chapter 5)

The Verres family motto, "you can never have enough books" (Chapter 7), is about accumulating knowledge (and hopefully also skills and wisdom). The Potter family motto, "the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (Chapter 96), is about defeating death. Harry combines both of these.

Notice what Quirrell says to Hermione: "Knowing things isn't always enough, Miss Granger. If you cannot give and receive violence on the order of stubbing your toe, then you cannot defend yourself and you will not pass Defence. Please rejoin your classmates." (Chapter 16) Even when angry, Hermione doesn’t use any violent or painful spells, and she indeed doesn’t pass Defence. Even with a troll coming after her, she doesn’t try to kill it.

Two things are described as bright red and "blazing like miniature suns": the Remembrall when Harry holds it, and Voldemort’s eyes in Harry’s memory.

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, January 2015, chapter 103 · 2015-01-30T14:41:52.507Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I know, I'm just explaining Quirrell's reasoning in a world where death has not yet been defeated.

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, January 2015, chapter 103 · 2015-01-30T03:25:50.531Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I realized why Quirrell gave Hermione a Dreadful grade, rather than just failing her. Recall from canon that there are three failing grades:

[passing grades]

Poor

Dreadful

[redacted for explaining a joke]

But a Poor grade indicates that the student can repeat the course. Death is final, there are no do-overs.

Comment by b_sen on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, January 2015, chapter 103 · 2015-01-29T02:42:09.370Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Quirrell could have decided that their overall grades should reflect only their ability to defend themselves, and so chosen to adjust the non-exam grades such that each student's overall grade (with the final included) matches his assessment of that student's defensive ability.

(This is really a more detailed version of your second guess.)

Comment by b_sen on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-11-11T18:46:59.152Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Nthed. I had to scroll using only the mouse.

Comment by b_sen on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-11-11T18:38:09.529Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My true answers were also frequently "highly situation-dependent [in assorted ways]." I tried to give a weighted average too, but that weighted average would change significantly with the balance of situational contexts I experience.